Ancient Shadows in the Book of Exodus

What we call “The Old Testament,” Jews often referred to as “The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.”  One remarkable thing about living after Christ’s resurrection is having the opportunity to look back and notice the many fulfilled prophecies and symbols that these ancient inspired works contain.

The New Testament refers to the Law of Moses as “a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17).  The historical account of Noah and the Ark, for instance, is spoken of as “symbol” or “antitype” which corresponds to baptism (1 Peter 3:21).  Many such “shadows” and “antitypes” can be seen in the account of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and pilgrimage to the promised land.

·      Israel became a great nation in the land of Egypt, so that the Pharaoh feared what they might accomplish (Exodus 1:7-10).  In the same way, we each have the potential to do great things for God, which the devil will try to thwart.
·      The Pharaoh decided to “deal shrewdly” with the Israelites in order to keep them under control (Exodus 1:10).  In the same way, Satan has been using trickery and scheming since Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:13) and continues to do so (John 8:44).
·      The Pharaoh’s plan was to force the people to do hard labor as a means of controlling them (Exodus 1:11-14).  Likewise, the devil seeks to enslave us to sinful desires (Romans 6:20).
·      Help came to the enslaved Hebrews in the form of a newborn baby (Exodus 2:2).  Our help, also, was prophesied with the words: “unto us a child is born.” (Isaiah 9:6).
·      Moses fought for his people to be free, displaying many signs and wonders (Exodus 5-11).  The Christ also suffered many things (Luke 17:25) and did many miracles (John 21:25).
·      In the end, the oppressors were swept away and drowned in the same water that the Israelites passed safely through (Exodus 14:21-30).  We also pass through water, that it might wash our sins away (Acts 22:16).
·      God’s salvation of His people was commemorated by a feast of unleavened bread and the marking of doorposts with the blood of a lamb (Exodus 12:14-27).  We also remember what God has done for us in a feast of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, which represents the blood of the Lamb of God (Luke 22:15-20).
·      A land of milk and honey awaited the Israelites as they left Egypt (Exodus 3:8, 33:3).  We, as sojourners, also seek a better land, in heaven (Hebrews 11:16).
·      While they sojourned, the people of Israel needed to be careful that they did not turn aside to foreign gods (Joshua 24:14-15).  We also must be faithful until death in order to receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

Hidden away in an Old Testament book like Exodus are many symbols that still have great power today.
Ancient Egypt

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An Outline of the Book of Romans

Colosseum in Rome
The following is an overview of Romans based on our weekly Sunday Morning Bible Study at Mankato Church of Christ from June-July, 2015.

Introduction.
Paul addresses himself to the Romans and expresses a desire to come see them. (1:1-17)

 No one is justified by works.
The world is a dark place, spiraling downward into sin. (1:18-32)
Even “good, moral people” fall short. (2:1-29)
Being a Jew does have some advantages, but NO ONE has the ability to justify himself to God based on his own merits. (3:1-20)

We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus.
Salvation is made available to us through Jesus Christ. (3:21-5:21)
It is a gracious salvation, it is not deserved. (3:21-5:21)
We access it by faith. (3:21-5:21)
Faith is a trust in God despite discouraging circumstances, and is completed and evidenced by obedience. (4:18-25, James 2:14-26)

We are not only justified, but also sanctified.
This salvation is not merely forgiveness, so that we may continue in sin that grace may abound. It is also comprised of a transformation, as we die to sin and are set free from our slavery to it. (6:1-23)

How and why the Old Law has been done away with.
How can Jews simply lay aside the Old Covenant law code? Because they died to it when they died with Christ, that the law of the Spirit might replace it. (7:1-6)
Are we saying that the law is bad? Not at all, but that sin has used it to ruin us. We are in desperate need of Jesus Christ, not merely the law, to solve this problem. (7:7-25)

Sanctification by the power of the Spirit.
It must remain amply clear that living according to the flesh still leads to death, even under this new covenant. (8:1-13)
Walking not according to the flesh but in righteousness is achieved by following, setting the mind on, and being indwelled by God’s Spirit. It is a matter not merely or rule keeping, but of inward change. (8:1-8:27)

What a glorious plan God has made, that He should justify us to Himself, that Christ Himself would not condemn, that having given us His Son, God would also give us all that we need. (8:26-39)

God is not breaking any promises to Israel.
God always knew that not all Hebrews would be saved, and that the Gentiles would come in, and has spoken accordingly through the prophets. (9:1-33)
The invitation is certainly open to all Jews, since Christ is the fulfillment of Judaism. (10:1-11:6)
Gentiles ought not to be arrogant about this, for though God may use them to make the Jews jealous, He can just as easily remove them from the plan if they display unbelief. (Romans 11:7-36)

Therefore, give your life to God.
In light of this doctrine, your service and your sacrifice to God is to give your life to Him. (12:1-2)

Your relationships with fellow Christians should be mutually edifying. (12:3-13)
You should treat your enemies with kindness rather than revenge. (12:14-21)
You should be in subjection to your government. (13:1-7)
All of your relationships are to be governed by the law: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. (13:8-14)

Do not judge your fellow Christians over matters of personal opinion. (14:1-12)
Avoid causing a brother to stumble by your actions, even if those actions are not inherently sinful. (14:13-23) 

Closing thoughts and reminders
Accept and edify each other. (15:1-12)
Paul’s expression of personal joy at the success of the congregation and the salvation of the gentiles (15:13-21) and reaffirmation that Paul wants to visit. (15:22-33)
Warning about those who cause divisions. (16:17-20)

Greetings to many diverse Christian brethren. (16:1-16, 21-24) 

All glory to God through Jesus Christ. (16:25-27)

Are you a Faithful Christian?

In Revelation 2:10, Jesus tells Christians: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Christians have adopted this concept into our understanding of salvation, and rightly so.  The implication of the verse is that if we are NOT faithful until death, then we will NOT receive the crown of life.  It follows that remaining faithful is part of the salvation process.

But what does it mean to “be faithful until death?” 

I ask because in many cases I’m afraid our concept of “being faithful” has shrunk down to the concept of “coming to church at least occasionally.”  After all, if a baptized believer comes to church regularly, though we know nothing else about them, we may say, “they are a faithful Christian.”  Likewise, when a brother or sister who has been attending ceases to show up on Sunday morning, we say “they used to be faithful, but they have fallen away.”

Please do not misunderstand my point, church attendance is extremely important.  In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are instructed to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.”

In addition to this clear Biblical instruction not to forsake the assembly, there is also the fundamental question: why on earth would a member of the body of Christ not yearn with everything that is in them to be encouraged by their brethren, worship their creator, and partake of the Lord’s Supper?  There are certainly situations in which the basic need to provide for the family, or physically debilitating conditions, make regular attendance impossible, and I do not intend to undermine those situations.  Nevertheless, church attendance is important.

But with the importance of church attendance established, let me caution us against assuming that it is the only important factor in “being faithful.” 
Biblical faith is trusting and obeying God unconditionally.  Being unfaithful, then, can manifest itself in any outward disobedient activity that results from a lack of trust.

  • Jesus did not say “if you don’t go to church enough” but rather “”if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:15)
  • Jesus did not say “whoever doesn’t attend worship”, but “whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)
  • Jesus did not merely say “he who warmed the pew at least 50% of the time will enter the kingdom of heaven” but “only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
  • Jesus taught that people will be excluded from God’s eternal presence not because “they slept in on Sunday morning” but because “to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” (Matthew 25:45)

God requires not merely an hour from you on Sunday, but your very heart and soul.  By God’s grace may we be reunited some day in heaven, having been faithful until death.

Church Pew